Red Deer County council faced a critter conundrum Tuesday.
After reviewing a proposed bylaw, setting out the rules and regulations for keeping urban hens and other animals on county acreages, councillors decided the regulations needed a little more work.
County staff had looked at other municipalities and gathered public input before coming up with a bylaw that would allow livestock for personal use on country residential and residential low-density properties two acres or more in size.
The bylaw would allow one animal unit on two- to three-acre properties and two units on properties over three acres.
An animal unit might include more than one animal. For instance, it would include one cow or pig, but two calves or four weaner pigs; one horse but two llamas or three sheep, goats and alpacas; or 10 rabbits but six turkeys, ducks or geese.
However, councillors heard there are a few five-acre residential parcels in the county and some of their owners asked to be allowed more animals.
Several councillors agreed that made sense and asked staff to take another look at the proposed bylaw.
Mayor Jim Wood said there are a few “anomaly” residential properties – that have up to five acres instead of the usual three-acre maximum.
Several residents told the county the proposed bylaw would allow them fewer animals than they already had.
Wood said council asked staff “if it is an extra-large lot could they have a few more animals?”
Council wants to know how close the larger residential properties are to existing neighbours to ensure there would no conflicts by allowing more animals.
“Maybe there is some way we can come up with some rules that would identify with this extra-large lot can they have a few extra animals.”
The bylaw also provided for urban hens, the keeping of which has become increasingly popular in many municipalities. Depending on zoning and property size, four to 12 urban hens would be allowed.
One woman who addressed council at a public hearing Tuesday asked that she be allowed more chickens, which she used to feed her family.
“I mean I think it’s important we sent it back to make sure we were doing the right thing,” said Wood.
The bylaw will come back to council at a future meeting.